Thursday, December 2, 2010

Let Us be Proud of Who We Are

Last few weeks I had encountered a few disturbing insights from a number of people:

1. At the talk by Tun Mahathir on 29 November 2010 - ‘Revisiting Vision 2020.’ One of the issues highlighted was our lack of trust on our people's expertise. As Tun was saying, in order for us to move forward, we need to actually upgrade our own expertise and develop our products and services so that our brands will be at par with all those international brands.

"In between the sarcasm and wry humour, Dr Mahathir also dispensed some brilliant thoughts on how to achieve Vision 2020 like re-focusing on Domestic Direct Investments, changing mindsets for the better, increasing productivity and quality of goods and services, and mastering the English language as it would enable one to have more access to information and knowledge, and be able to operate internationally with relative ease.”We still have 10 good years left to achieving Vision 2020," he said." Quoted from Bernama,, 29 November 2010.

2. At the Graduate School of Management Seminar 2010 on 1 December 2010- a talk by YM Dr Raja Nerina on our Halal industry and SME. Her findings discovered that a lot of our small and medium entrepreneurs lacked the capability and motivation to penetrate the international markets although the platform was provided through the cooperation of the Malaysian government with the foreign hypermarkets such as Tesco, Carrefour and Giant. Some of the reasons given by the entrepreneurs: the international regulations were too complicated; and to succeed it required hard work on their part, which they were not willing to give.

3. Also at the Graduate School of Management Seminar 2010 on 2 December 2010 - a conversation with a veteran in the industry. The question raised was simple. Why is it that most Malaysians who work for multinational organizations regard themselves as better off than Malaysians who are working in non-multinational organizations? The former seems to have higher self esteem and self efficacy than the latter.

Phrases like ‘ saya tak pandai..’ or ‘ saya rasa saya tak layaklah..’ or even ‘malu lah saya nak join..’ were common these days. Just take the situation in the university for an example. Companies have lots of opportunities to offer students in terms of competitions, practical trainings, etc. However, there were only few interested players. The rest prefer to just stay in the background. When given the opportunities, they often opt not to participate. However, when others actually grab the opportunities, they fret and complain and criticize for not being given the chance. The worst would be them finding excuses for not taking part or for not being chosen. I remembered once in our effort to encourage students to participate in students’ activities, we actually provided a.k.a bribed them with free lunches (nasi ayam to be specific). Still, not many came. It was very frustrating as many of the nasi ayam were then distributed to the faculty members. It beat the whole purpose of offering the nasi ayam in the first place.

Is this our ‘malu’ values in action? Do Malaysians prefer being appointed to do something as opposed to being openly invited for the same purpose? Are we becoming more and more complacent? Are we losing our sense of competitiveness? Looking back towards the previous generation, I see different values and attitudes at play. Perhaps because they had it hard in the beginning, their thirsts for knowledge and success are never ending. Perhaps the younger generation is being spoon fed too much that they become lazy to even put in efforts. Or are we overprotecting them in a way that they are not resilient anymore in facing the challenges of the world? If this attitude continues, what kind of society are we going to have in the future? What kind of lives will the next generation lead? With today’s technology, we should be able to embrace challenges and learning opportunities better. Knowledge should be shared and enhanced when possible. Criticisms should be done constructively and not be infected by negative emotions such as jealousy, malignancy, hatred and so force. All these years, generations after generations, we have been brought up with a well known proverb – segan bertanya, sesat jalan. By all means, ask and you will never be lost. Personally, I am not ashamed to admit that I don’t know about something. But I am very ashamed if I don’t take any actions in trying to learn the things that I don’t know. I strongly believe that anybody can be gemilang (outstanding). It’s a question of whether we want it or not. Think about it.

“I knew at that moment I had to make a choice. I could submit to everything that was happening and live a life of excuses... or I could push myself. I could push myself and make my life good.” Liz Murray – Homeless to Harvard, 2003.